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PHOTO CAPTION: Batteries from BMW Mini E used to power Efficiency House Plus in Berlin, Germany.

BMW, Vattenfall to Collaborate on Second Life for Electric Car Batteries

BMW Group and Vattenfall will research secondary uses for batteries from the carmaker's Mini-E and ActiveE electric car programs.

Published: 08-Sep-2013

Here's the question BMW, Vattenfall, and other carmakers including General Motors, are asking themselves: Is there life beyond the electric car for their very expensive battery cells?

General Motors and ABB have already deployed their first grid storage battery bank using repurposed cells from its Volt electric hybrid program. Now the German luxury carmaker and Swedish energy company aim to explore similar applications starting with solar-powered electric car charging stations. Solar panels would store in used electric car batteries electricity generated by sunlight, which would enable faster charging of EVs.

The premise behind these research projects is that even though aged batteries might no longer be suitable for powering an electric car, they still have as much as 70 percent of the storage capacity available, which can be used for stationary applications like powering the Efficiency House Plus in Berlin, Germany, which uses lithium cells from the Mini-E fleet, BMW's first electric car demonstration program. It has also operated other pilot programs in California and in Shanghai, China.

"Based on the ongoing international battery projects, the BMW Group is developing an overall strategy for the long-term stationary applications," explains Ulrich Kranz, Senior Vice President BMW i. " Instead of being directly recycled, the batteries have the potential for long-term sustainable re-use. This enables the BMW i to also contribute to a nationwide use of renewable energy."

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